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STATE OF ILLINOIS 

DEPARTMENT OF REGISTRATION 
AND EDUCATION 



Bulletin of the Immigrants Commission No. 2 



The Immigrant 

AND 

Coal Mining Communities 
of Illinois 



GRACE ABBOTT 
Executive Secretary, Immigrants Commission 




SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS 

1920 



STATE OF ILLINOIS 

DEPARTMENT OF REGISTRATION 
AND EDUCATION 

Bulletin of the Immigrants Commission No. 2 



The Immigrant 

AND 

Coal Mining Communities 
of Illinois 



GRACE ABBOTT 
Executive Secretary, Immigrants Commission 




SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS 

1920 



(43926 1M) 

ILLINOIS PRINTING CO., DANVILL1, ILL. 
2 



STATE OF ILLINOIS 

DEPARTMENT OF REGISTRATION AND EDUCATION 
FRANCIS W. SIIEPARDSON, DIRECTOR, Springfield 

THE I MM Hi HANTS' COMMISSION 

FRANCIS W. SIIKI-AKDSON, CHAIRMAN, Springfield 

ABEL DAVIS, Chicago 

CHARLES F. HARDING, Chicago 

MRS. HARLAN WARD CPOLEY, Chicago 

JOHN W. FORNOF, Streator 



(IRACB ABBOTT, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, 
538 So. Dearborn St., Chicago, Illinois 



Amendment to the Civil Administrative Code Approved June 
10, 1919. 

"In the Department of Registration and Education : 

The Immigrants' Commission composed of five members, one of 
whom shall bo the Director, sh-il' : 

(1) Make a survey of the immigrant, alien born and foreign- 
speaking people of the State, and of their distribution, conditions of 
employment, and standards of housing and living. 

(2) Examine into their economic, financial, and legal customs, 
their provisions for insurance and other prudential arrangements, 
their social organization and their educational needs; keeping in 
friendly and sympathetic touch with alien groups and co-operating 
with state and local officials and with immigrant and related au- 
thorities of other states and of the United States." 

Address all communications to 

The Executive Secretary, 

Immigrants' Commission, 

538 So. Dearborn St., 

. 

Chicago, Illinois. 




The family of a Hungarian miner. 



WHY THE STUDY WAS MADE 1 

The Immigrants' Commission is directed by statute to investi- 
gate the "conditions of employment and standards of housing and 
living," "social organizations," and "educational needs" of the 
foreign born in the state. The first communities in which such 
investigations were undertaken by the Commission were four coal- 
mining counties representative of the north, central, and southern 
fields of Illinois. There were several reasons for this choice. 
Although in the value of the products, agriculture and manufactur- 
ing, are more important than mining in Illinois, still in 1910 the 
State became the second largest coal-producing state in the United 
States. Pennsylvania, of course, ranked first. Since then Illinois 
has been surpassed only by West Virginia. These three states, 
Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Illinois furnish two-thirds of the 
bituminous coal of the country ; roughly, one-half of this comes from 
Pennsylvania and one-fourth each from Illinois and from West 
Virginia. 

CHANGES IN ILLINOIS MINING COMMUNITIES 

There have been important racial changes in the history of min- 
ing in Illinois. The pioneer workers were American, English, Irish, 
Scotch, Welsh, German, and a few French and English Canadian. 
In 1890 only 7 per cent of the employees in the mines and quarries 
of Illinois were from non-English speaking countries other than 
Germany and the Scandinavian states. By 1899 about 25 per cent 
were from France, Italy, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Belgium. 
With the opening of new fields from 1902 to 1907, and the consequent 
extraordinary development of coal mining in the Middle West, the 
number of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe in these 
fields increased. This was especially true of Illinois. In some of 
mining towns the recent immigrants displaced the older immigrants, 
but in many places the coming of the Italian, Lithuanian, and Rus- 
sian was coincident with the opening of the new mines. At present 
there are mining communities in Illinois in which practically the 
entire population are recent immigrants from southern and eastern 



1 The investigation on which this text is based was done in the main by Miss Sybil Loughead. 



Europe. Poor roads and lack of other transportation facilities have 
resulted in an isolation of some of these communities not found in 
any of the industrial towns of the state. 

INDUSTRIAL AND SOCIAL IMPORTANCE OF COAL MINING 

The war and the events since the war have brought to the people 
of every country a new sense of the dependence of our economic life 
and of our personal comfort upon the uninterrupted production of 
coal. The increased cost of living as well as the desire for a better 
standard of living has resulted in world-wide unrest among coal 
miners. 

With the price controlled by the cost of production in the least 
productive mines, we are faced with the dilemma of impossibly low 
standards in many mines or with unjustifiably high profits and high 
prices in the more productive mines. 

The shortage of supply and the high prices have brought discon- 
tent on the part of the public and the demand is general that mine 
operators and miners should consider the interest of the public in 
any policy adopted. This conflict of feeling has developed in Illinois 
as well as in other states and other nations. Radical solutions have 
been suggested from various quarters. The alien character of the 
population, while probably in no case the cause, is in many of these 
towns an added complication in the discussions. It was therefore 
believed that the basic facts about the population, housing, educa- 
tional opportunities, and general social conditions of the immigrant 
population in these mining towns of Illinois should be known. 

HISTORY OF RACIAL CHANGES 

The United States census does not give the nationality figures 
for smaller communities nor for coal miners as distinct from those 
employed in other mines and in quarries. The census taken by the 
State Mining Board in 1899 is the latest official one showing nation- 
ality in detail. A partial return from a questionnaire sent out in 
1918 by the Coal Operators' Association to determine the number of 
the foreign born employed in the bituminous mines in Illinois shows 
the English to be the largest group; the Italians, Austro-Hungari- 
ans, Germans, Russians, Poles, and French follow in the order 
indicated. 



The Italians were among the first of the recent immigrants to 
go into mining. As early as 1899 they were the largest foreign 
group with the exception of the Germans and there probably are 
now twice as many Italians as there are of any other one nationality 
working in the coal mines in Illinois. They had a part in the 
development of the northern mines as well as in the more recently 
opened southern ones. The Poles were next in importance to the 
Italians in 1899 ; but since that date they have not been entering the 
mines in great numbers, and, more than the other nationalities, they 
have left for industrial employment in cities and towns, so that in 
the mining communities they are at present surpassed in numbers 
by the Lithuanians as well as by the Italians. 

The Lithuanians have come chiefly since 1900 and are therefore 
more numerous in the central and southern fields than in the north- 
ern section. They already outnumber the Italians in Springfield 
and in many places in the southern part of the state. The Slovaks, 
Slovenians, Croatians, and Serbians are also recent comers to these 
same districts. While there are a few in almost every community, 
and their total numbers are not large, they form a large part of the 
population in individual places. Thus Zeigler has a large per cent 
of Croatians and Servians ; Thayer is largely Slovak ; Divernon 
chiefly Magyar; while Springfield and Auburn have good-sized 
colonies of Slovenians and French respectively. 



FOUR COUNTIES SELECTED AS BASIS OF THE STUDY 

As a basis of the Commission's study, schedules were taken by 
agents of the Commission in 26 towns and camps in Williamson, 
Franklin, Bureau and Sangamon Counties. Williamson and Frank- 
lin Counties are in the newer fields in the extreme southern part of 
the state. They are the two most important coal-mining counties 
in Illinois. For the past five years about one-fourth of the coal 
produced and of the men employed in the mines of the State have 
been in these two counties. Williamson County had at least one 
mine thirty-seven years ago, but it produced little coal until after 
1900. Since that date the mines have developed so rapidly that 
from 1907 to 1910, and again from 1912 to 1914, it mined more coal 



8 

than any county in the State; since 1914 it has been second only to 
Franklin County in coal production. 1 

In 1900 there were 1,440 men working in the mines of William- 
son County; in 1910 there were 7,760. It now has 40 commercial 
mines employing 10,132 men and in addition 9 small mines supply- 
ing local trade and employing 93 more men making a total of 
10,225 miners. 2 

The nationality census of coal miners taken by the Illinois Min- 
ing Board in 1899 showed 1,427 miners in Williamson County, of 
whom 1,178 or 83 per cent were American. Of the remainder 138 
were Italian, 90 British, 15 German, 5 Russian, and 1 French. 3 Of 
3,712 foreign-born white persons in the county in 1910, 1,607 were 
from Italy, 573 from Russia, 144 from Austria and 17 from 
Hungary. 4 Since then the number of foreign born has 
steadily grown as the mines have developed. The Italians 
still constitute the majority of the foreign born, followed in impor- 
tance by the Lithuanians. Many of the Poles have left for industrial 
cities and towns, and fewer have come in, so that they are far out- 
numbered by the Italians and Lithuanians. Practically all the other 
nationalities of southeastern Europe are represented in small groups. 

Franklin County's population history is very much like that of 
Williamson County, except that its growth has been more rapid; 
its towns are newer and its population less settled. Because of this 
rapid growth it has attracted more men whose families are in 
Europe, more workers without ties of any kind ; and there is in 
consequence less permanency and more movement both in and out of 
Franklin than Williamson County. 

Like Williamson County it also has no factories and is of even 
less importance in agriculture. Unlike Williamson County it had 
no mines in the early days and had not as many as one hundred 



Thirty-eighth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1919, table 35, p. 91. 
/b<d., p. 264. 

Eighteenth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1899, table 53, p. 74. 
thirteenth Census of the U. S., 1910. Abstract with supplement for Illinois, 
p. 634. 



men in the mines before 1900. 1 The greatest dvelopnient of its 
mines has come since 1910. Betwen 1907 and 1915 Franklin County 
passd from eighteenth to its present position as the most important 
mining county in the State. It now employs the most miners and 
produces the most coal and has the five largest mines in the State. 2 
It has apparently not yet reached its maximum production. A new 
mine was opened in the summer of 1920, for which 800 miners were 
needed, and many of the other mines are still continuing to increase 
their production. In 1900 the foreign born constituted only 0.8 per 
cent of the population of Franklin County and in 1910, 6.7 per cent. 
Unlike Williamson County the Italians do not constitute a majority 
of the foreign born. In 1910, out of a total of 1,731 foreign born, 
489 were from Italy, 456 from Russia, 233 from Austria, and 29 
from Hungary. Although the total numbers have increased, the 
relative importance of the various national groups remains about 
the same. A few of the communities are largely Italian, but in most 
of them there is a preponderance of Lithuanians, Poles, Slovaks, 
and Southern Slavs. 

Sangamon and Bureau, also mining counties with a large per 
cent of the miners from southern and eastern Europe, present strik- 
ing contrasts with Williamson and Franklin Counties. Sangamon 
County, the third largest coal-producing county in the state, has had 
important mines since 1882, and its growth since that date has been 
slow and steady. It is an important and rich agricultural district 
and many of the settlements have developed from villages of retired 
farmers. Its villages are attractive in appearance, compared to 
many of the raw camps in Williamson and Franklin Counties. 

The majority of the miners of Sangamon County were English 
speaking in 1900. There were only 116 Poles, 69 Italians, and a few 
Lithuanians, Russians, and Austrians among a total of 2,500 
miners. In 1900 the number of foreign born constituted 11.5 per 
cent and in 1910 13 per cent of the population of the County. This 
increase was almost entirely an increase in the numbers from 
southern and eastern Europe particularly Lithuanians who were 
employed in the mines. 



1 Franklin County had so few minors In '1899 that it was not included in the 
nationality census made by the Mining Board in that year. 

Thirty-eighth Annual Coal lleport of Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals, 
1919, table 35. 



10 



Coal production is declining in Bureau County, and instead of 
the problems that come with mushroom towns, it has those of the 
all but deserted village. In many of the towns there is discontent 
among those who wish to leave for more profitable fields of em- 
ployment and are prevented from going because they own property 
which thev cannot sell. 




No housing shortage hore. A row of 20 houses in 
Cherry, only 2 of which wore occupied in August, 
1320. 





The main road to the outside 
world. 



The Company store for three small 
camps, composed of about 200 company 
houses, lu addition to the store there 
are a pool room, a chapel, and a post- 
office. 




The beginnings of a new camp. 



Bureau County is, however, representative of the older coal 
fields whose mines have been largely developed by foreign labor. As 
early as 1900, 21.6 per cent of its population was foreign born and 
by 1910 the foreign born formed 23 per cent of its total population. 
The four main groups were Swedish, German, Italian, and Russian 
the last two being numerically much the more important. The 
mines are in the southeastern part of the county, and here the 



11 

foreign born have constituted a larger per cent of the population 
than in the county as a whole. For example, in Spring Valley only 
8 per cent were native born of native parentage, and 42 per cent 
were of foreign birth. 

Exclusive of the Lithuanians and Poles in Spring Valley the 
miners of Bureau County are now almost entirely Italian, with a 
few Slovaks and Belgians, but practically no Croatians, Serbians, 
Magyars, and others who are to be found in the southern and 
central field. 

The original workers in these mines were said to be English- 
speaking men who came from the Braidwood field, just south of 
Bureau County, which gave out just as the Bureau County 
mines were being opened. The non-English speaking foreign born 
soon began to come. At first there was opposition to them on the 
part of the English-speaking miners and many of the latter left. By 
1899 as many as 58 per cent of those reporting their nationality 
were from eastern and southern Europe. The Italians were among 
the first to come. The Coal Report of 1899 shows that even then 
780 out of a total of 3,071 miners in the county were Italians. 3 A 
partial census taken by an Italian priest in Spring Valley in 1911 
showed that at that time many of the Italian families had lived 
there twenty to twenty-five years and that there were some second 
and even third-generation Italians in the community. 

The Poles were also early comers to Bureau County. As early 
as 1892 there were sufficient to support a church in Spring Valley. 
Their numbers have decreased since that date, but the second and 
third generation of the original Polish settlers still live in Bureau 
County. 

The Lithuanians did not begin to come until later. The 1899 
State Coal Report showed only 42 miners from Russia. 3 By 1910 
immigrants from Russia constituted approximately one-seventh of 
the total number of foreign born in the county. The Polish and the 
Italians have lived in the district so long that they mingle with the 
American population. In contrast, the Lithuanians are said to be 
very clannish because they live together around their church. There 
have been and still are some Belgian and French and a few Slovak 
workers in the mines of Bureau County. 



Eighteenth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1899. Table 53, p. 73. 



12 



NUMBER AND NATIONALITY OF INDIVIDUALS FROM 
WHOM INFORMATION WAS SECURED 

In the course of the Commission's investigation schedules were 
obtiained in eleven towns and camps in Williamson County. This 
was practically every mining community which had a considerable 
foreign-born population. In Franklin, Bureau, and Sangamon 
Counties representative settlements were visited fifteen altogether. 
An effort was made to secure schedules from families from southern 
and eastern Europe, as it is believed that they represent not only the 
immigration of the recent past but of the next ten years to come. 
There was no selection of individuals from whom schedules were 
taken. A house-to-house canvass was made in the district selected. 
Altogether 556 schedules were secured which covered 556 foreign- 
born men, 497 foreign-born women, and 1,642 children. The nation- 
ality of these men and women is given in the following table : 

NATIONALITY OF MEN AND WOMEN IN ILLINOIS MINING TOWNS FROM WHOM 
SCHEDULES WERE SECURED 



NATIONALITY 


Total 


Men 


Women 


Italian 


473 


249 


224 


North Italian 


341 


181 


160 


South Italian 


112 


56 


56 


Not specified 


20 


12 


8 


Lithuanian 


261 


139 


122 


Polish 


140 


72 


68 


Czppho-Slnyalf 


48 


26 


22 


Jugo-Slav ... 


41 


23 


18 


Magyar 


32 


17 


15 


Ruthenian and Ukrainian 


24 


13 


11 


French and Belgian 


23 


13 


10 


All others 


11 


4 


7 










Total 


1,053 


556 


497 











PREVIOUS OCCUPATIONS OF THE IMMIGRANT MINERS 

OF ILLINOIS 

Immigration from eastern Europe has been in the main a 
peasant migration, so that it is not surprising to find that in the 
mines, as in the factories, most of the men were farm laborers or 
farmers before they came to the United States. The experience of 
380 of the 556 men from whom schedules were secured had been lim- 
ited to farming before they emigratd. Only 43 had worked in the 
mines in Europe. Of this number there was an interesting group of 14 



13 

Lithuanians who had first gone from the farms of Lithuania to the 
coal mines in the vicinity of Glasgow, Scotland, and from there 
had come to the United States; there were also 6 Sicilians, all of 
whom had worked in the sulphur mines in Villa Rosa, in Sicily; 1 
there were 5 French miners who had worked in the coal mines of 
France before they emigrated; and, indicative of the movement of 
Italians to France and Germany, there were 3 North Italians who 
had previously worked in both French and German mines. 

A very large per cent of all immigrants coming to the United 
States are destined to friends or relatives already here ; and instead 
of attempting to begin the American experiment unaided or unad- 
vised, they rely upon the advice or help of relatives or countrymen. 
The knowledge of employment opportunities that the friends or 
relatives have is usually confined to their own immediate environ- 
ment. This explains the fact that 425 of the 556 men from whom 
Schedules were secured had never worked at anything but mining in 
the United States : it also explains why those immigrants who were 
skilled workers in a trade for which there was no market in the 
particular community to which this tie of relationship or friendship 
led them never followed their trade here. In the course of the 
schedule-taking men were found working in the mines who had been 
millers, carpenters, bricklayers, shoemakers, tinners, blacksmiths, 
and clerks in their European homes. A few of them preferred 
mining to their old trades, but most of them had gone into the mines 
because they were in a mining district and they took it for granted 
that they could not find work at their trade. Most of them had 
come to a camp or a town which had grown up around a mine, and 
unless it was on the edge of an industrial town, mining was at least 
the easiest choice. 

Over and over again those who had been farmers or farm labor- 
ers at home said that they worked in the mines because it was the 
best-paying job they could get when they came; some of them said 
they preferred farm work, but "it takes too much money to be a 
farmer here" and farm hands are not so well paid as miners. 



'This could probably not be counted as experience which in any way qualified for 
coal mining here. The peasants of Villa Rosa not only get out the sulphur and haul It 
from the mines, but they sometimes grind it in a primitive way in their homes during 
the winter. 



14 
LIVING CONDITIONS 

HOUSING 

In Illinois the history of a mining settlement usually begins 
with the driving of the shaft and the building of a number of 
shacks by the mining company. Company ownership of the houses, 
tihe store, and the other buildings of the town was formerly more 
common than at present. But there are still camps entirely owned 
by the company, and others in which the company has adopted the 
policy of selling the houses to the miners but still owns a consider- 
able part of the town. 

If the mine happens to be near a country village, farming 
center, or industrial town its development is influenced by the 
housing and other standards of the village or town. But more often 
it is called a "camp," is remote, and isolated ; and ugliness, incon- 
venience, and even real hardships are the rule. 

The mining towns and camps are painfully alike in appearance. 
The four or five-room box-like houses are built in rows, elevated 
from the ground on posts, without any cellar or foundation. Some- 
times all the houses in a camp have front porches; sometimes 
porches have been provided only for the new houses ; in some of the 
towns shingling has been used ; and in some few the drab-gray paint 
which is almost universal has given place to green or some other 
color. There are frequently no trees or gardens of any sort. 

For example, Bush-Hurst is a combination of two distinct set- 
tlements which are about a mile apart. Hurst is a comfortable 
village, built around a town square, in which not only miners but 
retired farmers live. With the exception of one Croatian and five 
Italian families the people in Hurst are Americans, and most of 
them own their own homes. Bush, on the other hand, is a company- 
owned, immigrant settlement of about two hundred houses scattered 
in three camps. The first houses were of the ugliest box type, the 
next ones to be built had porches, and for those now building 
stained shingles instead of clapboards are being used. 

Clifford, near Herrin, in Williamson County, is another com- 
pany-owned town. Here there are 216 houses of three and four 
rooms, all looking very much alike and painted slate colored. Each- 
house had an outside toilet, which the company was supposed to 



15 

clean once a month, but many of them were offensively dirty, and 
the people complained they had not been cleaned in three months. 

Zeigler, the first mining settlement in Franklin County, was 
started as a company town seven years ago. It now has from 3,000 
to 3,500 people, about 60 per cent of whom are foreign born. Of 
these approximately 400 are Croatian, 100 Montenegrin, Bulgarian, 
Polish, and Lithuanian, respectively, and smaller numbers are 
Slovak and Italian. For the past two years the company has been 
selling the houses. It still has about 100 houses and 4 so-called 
"flats," which it owns and rents to the miners. These flats are 
barrack-like buildings, some longer than others. At the time of the 




One of four "Company Flats" in Zeigler. These are barrack-like buildings varying 
in length. One bouses 6, one 16, and another 30 foreign-born families. The picture 
was taken the day after clean-up day. 

investigation one housed 6, one 8, one 16, and another 30 families 
under one roof. The toilets are all outside privies, supposedly 
cleaned every month by the company, but last summer they were so 
dirty that the Commission's investigators reported the odor in the 
rear of the flat buildings to be almost unbearable. In the seven 
years in which the camp has been in existence, no attempt had been 
made to clean up or remove the rubbish until in May, 1920, a 
clean-up day was held, at which time the mine closed and all the 
business stopped while a beginning was made in the removal of 
rubbish and filth. 



16 



NUMBER OF PERSONS IN HOUSEHOLDS FOR WHICH SCHEDULES WERE SECURED WITH 
SPECIFIED NUMBER OF ROOMS 



Number 

r\t 


NUMBER OF ROOMS 


Total 


fjl 

Persons 


1 


2 


3 


4 


5 


6 


7 


8 or more 


No Re port 


Number 
Households 


1 




1 


1 


2 












4 


2 


1 


12 


7 


12 


1 


I 








34 


3 




4 


11 


33 


6 


1 


1 






56 


4 




5 


19 


43 


15 


2 


2 


2 




83 


5 




3 


20 


56 


25 


14 


1 


2 




121 


6 




2 


9 


54 


19 


3 


1 




1 


89 


7 




1 


8 


28 


8 


10 


5 


1 




61 


8 






4 


18 


6 


7 


1 


1 




37 


9 






3 


12 


2 


2 


2 






21 


10 






1 


5 


3 


3 


1 






13 


11 








4 


1 


5 








10 


12 












2 








2 


13 












2 








2 


No re port. 








1 












1 


Total... 


1 


28 


83 


268 


86 


52 


14 


6 


1 


539 



In some of the towns there are not enough houses to take care 
of the workers, and in most of them there is not sufficient variety to 
care properly for the families of different sizes and tastes. In 
Williamson and Franklin counties 185 out of the 310 families 
scheduled were living in four-room houses 75 families lived in 
fewer and only 49 in more than four rooms. 

In Sangamon County 44 of the 128 families interviewed lived in 
four-room houses, while 34 had fewer and 44 had more than that 
number of rooms. In Bureau County housing conditions were 
better. There, out of 115 families for whom schedules were secured, 
39 families lived in four-room houses,* 3 in fewer, and 68 in more 
than that number. In 80 of the homes visited in the four counties 
in the course of the inquiry there were two or more persons per 
room ; in 7 the rate was three or more persons per room. 

THE BOARDER IN THE IMMIGRANT FAMILY 

As in the immigrant neighborhood of a city the boarder is 
found in the mining towns, and more frequently in the mining 
camps. The reasons are the same in each case. There are large 
numbers of single men, or men whose families are in Europe, and 
there is seldom any plan made for housing them. There are more of 
these single men in the newer camps, and sometimes in these 



17 

one finds bachelor houses where the single men live together in non- 
family groups. But some of the single men must always find 
accomodations with families. They are taken in sometimes out of 
a kindly appreciation of this fact, and sometimes the wife does it to 
supplement the family income. In Bureau County, where wages are 
lower but there are fewer single men and more houses, only 12 per 
cent of the families covered by the Commission's investigation had 
boarders, and three-fourths of these had only one. In Sangamon 
County 21 per cent of the families had boarders one-half of these 
had only one and one-fourth only two. In Williamson and Franklin 
counties 21 per cent had boarders, and more than half of these had 
more than one man living with the family. This practice of keeping 
boarders is not confined to any one nationality. Thus in the 
southern counties 24 per cent of the Lithuanians, 23 per cent of the 
South Italians, 22 per cent of the Polish, and 21 per cent of the 
North Italian families covered in the investigation had boarders. 
In one six-room house a Ruthenian family of four had eight board- 
ers; another, in which there was only one child, had ten boarders. 
One Lithuanian family had three children and six boarders eleven 
people in a six-room house. As in the industrial neighborhoods of 
the city, the practice of taking boarders exposes the family to the 
generally bad physical effects of overcrowding and to the even more 
serious social consequences which result from lack of privacy and a 
generally demoralized family life. 

THE WATER SUPPLY. 

None of the houses visited in the course of this study had water 
inside the house. In Williamson and Franklin counties securing 
any water at all, to say nothing of pure water, was often quite a 
problem. The water is frequently piped from the mines or river 
and is often not fit to drink. Cisterns, sometimes very dirty, are 
relied upon for drinking water in many of the camps. In one 
company-owned camp one well was used by 20 families, another by 
15, another by 14, and another by 10 families. In another camp 
water is brought from the mines, and one faucet serves several 
families. It is, however, not considered good for drinking purposes, 
and rain water caught from the roofs is often used. In Zeigler 
there is usually a faucet between two houses, but the water is not 
only not good but gives out entirely at times. This the women in 
other towns complained of also and explained that when a dry 
season comes they "have to get water wherever they can." 



18 

This carrying water from a distance and having an insufficient 
supply adds to the women's work, and it must also inevitably lower 
family standards of cleanliness. 

These conditions may seem like temporary hardships which 
will soon be overcome. It should, however, be remembered that 
families were found who had lived in camps like these for ten or 
fourteen years, had come from similar or frequently worse condi- 
tions in Scotland, Pennsylvania, or West Virginia. These are the 
only homes many of the children are ever to know unless, as many 
of them in the past have done, they leave the camp for the city. 

The problem of how to insure decent, comfortable homes for the 
miners is not easily solved. Any plan which looks beyond mere 
negative action, the prohibition of what is extremely bad, is much 
more difficult to work out for a mining than for an industrial town. 
The life of the mining town is more precarious, so that conditions 
approximating those of the construction camp are tolerated. While 
an individual mine may be operated only a short time, the miners 
move on to another place so that the conditions under which they 
live are by no means temporary. Whether the houses are company 
owned, built by a real estate company, or owned by the workers, 
the uncertainty as to the continuance of the mine affects the char- 
acter of the building of both the homes and the town improvements. 
Almost no experiments have been made in the United States in 
state or municipal housing or in co-partnership ownership. It is 
hardly to be expected that, although so greatly needed, the first 
experiments will be made in communities in which conditions are 
so little stabilized as in the mining towns. Still the Miners' Union 
has led the way in consumers' co-operation, and it may be that some 
plan can be worked out for a .combination company and union 
ownership which will eliminate the objections to company -owned 
houses and speculative building, and will at the same time make a 
much more just distribution of the losses if the operation of the 
mine is abandoned than under any plan by which the men own their 
own homes. Certainly the subject is of such importance that it 
deserves the most serious consideration by the State as well as by 
those immediately concerned. 

At any rate an adequate and well-enforced State housing law 
would eliminate many of the most menacing of the present condi- 
tions. Experience has shown that, while such laws are easy to pass, 



19 

they frequently go unenforced. This has been due largely to the 
fact that throughout the United States we rely almost wholly upon 
local agencies for the enforcement of such laws when they are 
passed. It is believed that the conditions already described make it 




In this cainp in Williamson County there are 210 company-owned houses. 




Old style colorless company houses in another Williamson County Camp. The 
newer houses have porches and are painted. 

clear that in all the camps and many of the smaller towns this 
would mean no enforcement. Illinois needs State enforced housing 
standards below which no community can fall but whch any com- 
munity may raise. 



20 

ILLITERACY AMONG THE MINERS AND THE EDUCA- 
TIONAL OPPORTUNITIES OF THE MINING TOWNS. 

Attempts to show that a knowledge of English could be made 
a test of loyalty to American ideals or of the moral worth of the 
individual have always failed. So also have attempts to promote a 
love of the United States by disparaging the cultural, spiritual, or 
economic contributions of the non-English speaking nationalities. 
In determining the per cent in the Illinois mining towns who have 
not learned to read, write, or speak English, or have not become 
citizens, the Commission has attempted to do neither of the above. 
It has, however, assumed that for participation in the life of the 
community a knowledge of English is necessary. It is important, 
therefore, to both the individual and the community that it be 
within the range of reasonable possibility for all those who reside in 
the United States to learn English and become acquainted with 
current community problems and their historical setting. The 
important fact which emerged from this study was not so much the 
numbers who are still separated from us by language barriers but 
the almost complete lack of provision which had been made for the 
removal of that barrier. 

It may be safely assumed that all foreign-born residents would 
like to know English. This desire is weakened by many facts. Our 
language must be learned by these men and women during the 
leisure hours that come after a long working day. This is the most 
important reason why the desire to learn English remains for many 
a mere desire. After a miner has acquired the vocabulary of his 
work more English is of little economic value to him, as most of 
the foreign born in the mining towns remain miners or miners' 
helpers. To become licensed miners they must w r ork two years at 
the face of the mine and take an examination which is given in 
English. This examination is, however, a technical one and a 
knowledge of the working terms, together with the practical experi- 
ence they have had, is said to enable them to pass it without 
general English vocabulary. 

The men then do not need to know English either to hold a job 
or to get the first promotion. But, although not an economic neces- 
sity, they realize the value of a knowledge of the language of the 
country. They know they are handicapped at the union meetings, 
which are conducted in English; they know how difficult travel is 



21 

for them and how shut off they are from Americans because they do 
not speak our language. Even those who do not expect to remain in 
the United States would be glad to return with a knowledge of 
English. Despite the seeming acquiescence in their isolation, it 
may be assumed that all of them desire American contacts, 
and although it is the cause of many a heartache, are proud of their 
Americanized children. To what extent they are offered an oppor- 
tunity to share in what is available for their children is the ques- 
tion of real importance. 

In the 26 mining towns and cities covered in the investigation 
only four offered classes of any kind for adults last year. In three 
of these communities, evening classes were held in the school build- 
ing and taught by day-school teachers, but the expenses of the 
classes were met out of a fee charged those who attended. These 
were men who were being coached for their naturalization examina- 
tions. In the fourth place, Springfield, there has been a regular 
evening school; since its legality 1 was questioned, the school has 
been kept open by contributions mainly from the Daughters of the 
American Kevolution. 

It is not surprising therefore to find, as the following table 
shows, that only 63 out of 556 men and 16 out of 527 women from 
whom schedules were secured were able to both read and write 
English. Forty-nine other men and 11 other women were able to 
read but not to write the language. A larger number, 421 men and 
247 women, had learned to speak English many of them very 
poorly but still sufficiently to make themselves understood at work 
or at the store. While only 80 of the men and 107 of the women 
were unable to read and write in their native language, 493 of the 
men and 509 of the women were illiterate from an English stand- 
point. 

The immigrant women always have more difficulty in learning 
English. In some of the mining towns the feeling that a woman 
only needs to know how to look after the housework affects not only 
the learning of English by the mothers but is the cause of the girls 
being kept out of school at the earliest possible date, sometimes in 
violation of the compulsory education law. In a few places some 
efforts had been made to break down this prejudice. In one town, 
for example, the priest had organized a class for the women, but 



'See Report on Educational Needs of the Immigrants in Illinois. 



22 



although a number of them came they were said to be so timid that 
little progress was made. 

Of the 556 men from whom education was secured, 163 had come 
to the United States before they were twenty-one years of age and 
259 had lived in the same town in Illinois for at least ten years. 

If the men are going to learn to speak English they seem to do 
it usually during the first five years of their residence in the United 
States ; but with the women, whose contacts are much more gradu- 
ally acquired, this is not true. Thus 92 per cent of the men 
scheduled who had been here five years and less than ten years had 
learned to speak English ; while the same per cent of those who had 
been here twenty years and over could speak it. In the case of the 
women the per cent speaking English was 49 among those who had 

ILLITERACY OF MEN AND WOMEN FROM WHOM SCHEDULES WERE SECURED 
DISTRIBUTED BY COUNTIES AND BY SEX. 



COUNTY 


Total 


Number 
Illiterate 
on 
Arrival 


NUMBER ILLITERATE AT PRESENT 


Unable to 
speak 
English 


Unable to 
read 
English 


Unable to 
both read 
and write 
English 






MEN 








Williamson . . 


239 
74 
128 
115 


38 
10 
17 
15 


54 
13 
31 
37 


212 
67 
86 
99 


215 
71 
102 
105 


Franklin 


Sangamon 


Bureau 


Total 


556 


80 


135 


464 


493 








WOMEN 








Williamson 


235 
70 
113 
109 


44 
15 
33 
15 


140 
33 
39 
70 


227 
67 
106 
100 


229 
57 
111 
102 


Franklin 


Sangamon 


Bureau 


Total 


527 


107 


282 


500 


509 





been here five years and less than ten and 81 per cent among those 
*vho had been here twenty years and over. Among both men an*? 
women a longer period of residence meant that a larger per cent 
learned to read and write English. Thus only 8 per cent of the men 
and 2 per cent of the women scheduled who had been here five years 



23 

and less than ten years had learned to read and write the language, 
while the percentages among those who had been here twenty years 
and more were 16 among the men and 14 among the women. 

In one of the larger towns of Williamson County in which there 
is an unusually high per cent of Americans it seemed as though 
surely the educational needs could be met by the community, but 
school officials pointed out what seemed to them insuperable 
difficulties in offering opportunities for the foreign-born men and 
women to learn English. None of the schools were conveniently 
located or equipped for an adult school, there was no money to pay 
the teachers and it was felt the teachers ought not to be asked to 
volunteer their services. Of the 52 men in the town from whom 
information was secured only six could read and write English, 
seven could read but not write it, while 48 had learned to speak it ; 
of the 49 women only 3 could read and write English and 22 had no 
speaking knowledge of it whatever. Ten of the men and 10 of the 
women were not able to read and write their native language. The 
superintendent of schools, who served on the Draft Committee, said 
that during the war 10 per cent of the drafted men could not sign 
their names. 

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHILDREN INADEQUATE 

In addition to the almost total lack of educational facilities for 
adults, most of the mining towns and camps of the southern counties 
do not offer children what we should regard as an American 
standard of education. The miners and the miners' wives of Wil- 
liamson and Franklin Counties complained again and again of the 
poor schools the children attended. The cause was usually a lack of 
funds. The schools are largely supported by local taxation; the 
miners have little accumulated wealth to tax ; the mines are usually 
located outside the school districts in which the miners and their 
children live, so the mines are taxed for the much smaller school 
population of a rural district. Some of the towns have special 
difficulties. For example, in Freeman, a town which is partly in 
Franklin and partly in Williamson County, the only school is on the 
edge of the settlement on the Franklin County side. This means a 
two miles' walk to school for many of the children. The parents 
complained that this was too far for the little children to go, par- 
ticularly in winter and during muddy weather. The dirt road 
becomes almost impossible during some seasons of the year; the 



24 

only alternative is what is regarded as a dangerous road around a 
mine switch. The Italians also complained that they were particu- 
larly apprehensive about the moral safety of the older girls, as the 
school was located in the woods and there was not proper super- 
vision during recess. But even worse than the long walk, 
overcrowded classes await the Williamson County children when 
they reach the school. Last year there were three teachers and one 
of them had 105 pupils. The school term was seven months. The 
children, nearly all foreign born and many of them coming from 
non-English speaking homes, needed the most skilled teaching and 
a longer school year. 

During the long summer months a six weeks' private school is 
held in one of the school buildings. The tuition is $3.00 or $4.00, 
the rate varying with the age of the children. The summer of 1920 
there were usually about forty children in the school, which was 
taught by two inexperienced eighth-grade graduates. One of the 
teachers complained that "it was impossible for the boys to learn 
much, because they entered school late and usually left before they 
had learned to read and write to any extent." 

In one of the company-owned towns one teacher in a primary 
grade had ninety-one pupils. In such towns there were, of course, 
no classes for adults and no prospect of any until school conditions 
for the children were improved. 

The school situation in Bureau County is much better than in 
Williamson and Franklin Counties. Mines and valuable farm lands 
are usually inside the school districts in which the mining towns are 
located. The children stay in school longer. In the township high 
school at Spring Valley many of the pupils are from foreign families 
and investigators were told of some ten Italians and Lithuanians 
who have gone on to college. There were no classes for adults last 
year in the county, but there have been some in the past. The 
foreign born themselves frequently show considerable impatience 
with those who have not learned English, saying they could have 
picked it up if they had wanted to. While a large per cent of the 
men knew English, the women were as isolated in Bureau as in the 
other counties. Forty-five of 109 could speak no English ; only 2 had 
learned to read and write it (one of these was a girl who came when 
she was eleven years of age but had never been to school in the 
United States). One of the 45 who could not speak English was 



25 

American born, had returned to Italy when she was eight years of 
age and had come back to the United States when she was sixteen. 




A mine near a Williamson County Camp. 

It is not to be expected that under present conditions in Wil- 
liamson and Franklin Counties English will be the language in the 
home of the immigrant families. Because the women are almost as 
isolated in Sangainon, in spite of a longer residence, this is also true 
of that county. In only 27 of the 128 homes in which schedules were 
taken in Sangamou County was English the language of the home. 
In Bureau County, where the immigrants are older settlers, English 
as well as a foreign language is spoken in 44 out of the 115 homes 
covered in the investigation. 

This means increased difficulty in the teaching of the children, 
which there is at present no preparation for meeting. 1 Short terms, 
overcrowded rooms, poorly enforced truancy laws, lack of recrea- 
tional facilities, all make the problem of the education of the miners' 
children a serious one. The immigrant parents appreciate this fact ; 
the amounts they are spending in proportion to their wealth indi- 
cates greater sacrifice for education on their part than in commun- 
ities in which the same tax rate provides excellent schools, so that 
apparently help must come from other sources. 

In its Report on the "Educational Need* of Immigrants in Illi- 
nois," the Commission has recommended that (1) communities shall 
be required to maintain day or evening classes for persons who are 
unable to read, write, and speak English and who are over the age 
of compulsory full-time attendance at day school, (2) that all 



26 

persons under 21 years of age who are unable to meet the educa- 
tional requirements for work permits under the State ChDd-Labor 
Law shall be required to attend day or evening classes, (3) that 
special work in behalf of the immigrant women shall be under- 
taken, (4) that the State should adopt a training program for 
teachers of immigrant classes, (5) that it shall undertake to reach 
the older men and women with moving pictures, lectures in their 
own language, etc., and (6) that both Federal and State aid should 
be granted local communities for the education of adult illiterates. 
The illiteracy and lack of educational opportunities in these mining 
towns and camps makes it imperative that this program be promptly 
carried out. 

NATURALIZATION 

The increased consciousness of our citizenship status which 
came with the war extended to the mining communities of Illinois. 
The per cent of men interviewed in the course of the investigation 
who had become naturalized varies in the different counties. In 
Saugamon 63 per cent of these had secured their second papers ; in 
Bureau 58 per cent, while in Williamson and Franklin Counties 
only 19 per cent had certificates of naturalization. In individual 
towns the differences were even greater. In Zeigler, although 60 
per cent of the population is said to be forign born, "you can count 
on your fingers the number of naturalized voters", according to a 
local official. In Herrin local officials estimated that about four- 
fifths of the fathers of the foreign-born families were voters but only 
20 of the 76 interviewed by the Commission's investigators had 
their final papers and only 18 others had declared their intention of 
becoming citizens. 

This difference is largely determined by the age of the settle- 
ment. The men in the northern and central fields have usually lived 
there much longer and many of them before 1906, when it was 
possible to arrange for naturalization en masse before an election. 
In these communities men belonging to the so-called newer immi- 
gration from southern and eastern Europe are not only voters but 
are frequently office holders in the community. 

There are several reasons why a larger per cent of the men in all 
these counties were not citizens. Ignorance of naturalization require- 
ments was sometimes the explanation. One man who had taken out 
his first papers more than seven years ago thought he was entitled 



27 

to vote because he had registered for military service. In general, 
however, those interviewed were found to be fairly familiar with 
the requirements of the law ; many had experienced difficulties in 
meeting them. 

For example, much difficulty is experienced in securing proper 
witnesses. In Williamson County, of 52 petitioners for naturaliza- 
tion at the spring term of the Naturalization Court only 17 got 
their papers. The judge reported that most of the applications 
were refused because of incompetent witnesses or were continued 
because the men were still classified as alien enemies. Occasionally 
this is due to a misunderstanding of the requirements of the law, 
but many of the men have moved about so frequently that it is very 
difficult for some of them to get citizens who have known them five 
years to act as witnesses. One man whose witnesses "went back on 
him'', reported that he "tried it three times before he was finally 
naturalized, and had spent $125.00." 

The cost of naturalization is also a deterrent. It made some 
of the men who did not feel sure of their English hesitate to apply, 
although others philosophically remarked that "it cost a lot, but 
you have to expect that." Distance from the county seat often 
explains the cost in part Thus in Williamson County there were 
no convenient trains from several of the towns. From Bush the 
men hire an automobile which takes them to Herrin $7.00 for the 
round trip and they then go by trolley to Marion. It is difficult 
to get to the court for naturalization from Cherry, Bureau County, 
because there are no convenient trains. Here the estimate was that 
it costs a man $30.00 to $40.00, and as many of them know "more if 
the case is continued." 

In some of the towns evidence was found of a desire to deny 
citizenship to those who took or did not take a certain position with 
reference to some question on which citizens were themselves much 
divided. Thus in one of the southern counties the Naturalization 
Examiner 1 of the United States Department of Labor believed that 
those who quit work during the Autumn of 1919, in defiance of the 
injunction granted at the request of the Attorney General, should 
not be considered loyal within the meaning of the naturalization 
law. He had examined a number of ex-soldiers, who were strikers 
and entitled to special consideration under the naturalization law 



'The Secretary of Labor reports that this was done on the Examiner's own re- 
sponsibility and not under directions from Washington. 



28 

because of their military service ; he had them make affidavits to the 
effect that they knew they were striking in defiance of the United 
States laws and because they regarded their allegiance to the Union 
as superior to their allegiance to the United States. These affidavits 
were turned in to the judge with the recommendation that their 
petitions should be denied. The judge found, on cross examination, 
that the men had not understood the affidavits they were signing, 
that they struck not because the Union required it but because the 
other men, many of whom were already citizens, were striking and 
because they saw no other way of improving their condition. The 
judge, therefore, granted their petitions if they were in other 
respects qualified. In a region such as this, where practically all 
the miners were members of the union, an episode of this sort might 
have prevented many from becoming citizens and have introduced 
new complications in a controversy already difficult. 

Some of the men, particularly those who lived in a company- 
owned camp, felt that there is little use of their being citizens or 
voters. Thus one man who had lived for fourteen years in the same 
camp said quite hopelessly, "I never leave the camp, so why should 
I have papers (citizenship) ?" 

In view of what has already been said about the almost total 
lack of educational opportunities for adults in the twenty-six min- 
ing towns visited, it seems unnecessary to point out that the 
difficulty of acquiring English and of preparing for the examination 
in civics has deterred many from trying to become citizens. One 
man in Franklin County put it "you must know good English now," 
to become naturalized. In the absence of classes special assistance 
must be secured; "a friend," "the priest," "a union official," (one 
who was interviewed was taking a correspondence course) had 
helped most of them to acquire sufficient English to pass the exam- 
ination. In Franklin County the judge spoke of the larger per cent 
of those who came up for examination who were able to pass during 
the war when classes, since abandoned, were organized for the men 
in many of the towns. 

Special concern was expressed in Sangamon County about the 
women who were widows and who must become citizens in order to 
hold their mothers' pensions. Almost a third of the women inter- 
viewed in Sangamon County were illiterate on arrival and have not 
learned to read and write here. For such women preparation for 



29 

the citizenship tests is a very serious undertaking. In Springfield 
the court has adopted the custom of requiring that the women begin 
the study of English before the pension is granted. If they have no 
one to help them learn, but are willing to try, some one is secured 
to help them. In the isolated camps and smaller towns it is almost 
impossible to secure such assistance. 

In the Report on the Educational A T eed o/ the Immigrant this 
problem of the non-English speaking mother has been discussed in 
greater detail. It is one which exists in industrial as well as min- 
ing towns. Experiments as to methods of teaching and ways of 
meeting and breaking down the isolation of the women are greatly 
needed. 

THE PROFITS OF THE MINER 

Before the war the wage scale for the mines was negotiated by 
the mine operators and the Union. During the war the Fuel Admin- 
istration was an important factor in these negotiations. Since the 
Armistice there has been much public discussion, bitterness, and 
confusion in connection with rate-fixing, and a long controversy as 
to whether agreements made for the period of the War were or were 
not still binding, and whether the government control should be 
continued. In the discussion of hours and wages there has been 
little appreciation on the part of the public of a most important 
factor in the problem. Most of the men work on a tonnage basis, 
so that, as for all piece work, the saying is "the miner is paid what 
he earns." His own skill is, however, not the only factor in his 
earnings. In the United States as a whole the annual and the daily 
output of coal per underground worker is greater than in any 
country in the world, notwithstanding the fact that the working 
year is usually shorter here than in other countries. 1 Whether the 
coal bed is faulty, whether the seam is thin or deep, whether ma- 
chinery can be and is used, the general mine equipment, the car 
supply, and the accident rate are among the factors that determine 
\\ hat the worker can earn. These factors, with the same wage scale, 
produce the greatest inequalities in payment from mine to mine and 
field to field. They are, however, factors which the miner knows, 
and he is able to forecast what his earnings will be if he has the 



Labor ReHev, Vol. XI. No. 3 (September, 1920), p. 118. Reprint of 
U. S. Bureau of Mines Report of Investigations, Serial No. 2145. 



30 

opportunity to work. What he does not know is how many days of 
work he will have. This is true in Illinois as in other mining states. 

In the year ending July 1, 1919, out of 38 counties in which at 
least 100 men were employed in mining there were only 11 counties 
in which, out of a possible 308 working days, the average number of 
days worked was 200; in only 3 counties was the average as high 
as 225. 1 

The Annual Coal Report of Illinois does not give the wages the 
men receive ; no pay-roll study was attempted, and the men in most 
cases do not know accurately what their yearly earnings are. The 
men usually do know pretty accurately what their highest and 
lowest pay checks have been. This question was asked those who 
were interviewed in the course of the investigation. In Bureau 
Count}', out of 96 men from whom schedules were secured, only 18 
said they had ever received as much as $80.00 (payments are 
made every two weeks), and not one of them had had as much as 
$90.00. For some the maximum pay check was $60.00 and $65.00. 
The minimum sometimes ran as low as $5.00, $10.00, and $12.00. In 
Bureau County the men who were paid on the day basis were con- 
sidered the best paid, while in the richer southern fields exactly the 
reverse was true. The range of payment in Franklin and William- 
son counties was much higher. 

In the southern counties one man reported a check of $156.00 
for two weeks' work. He is a shot firer, a Lithuanian, who was 36 
years of age when he came to the United States ; has been here ten 
years, and has lived eight years in this town. His lowest pay 
check was $3.00 in 1919. He reports his yearly earnings as $2,400. 
The man has a wife and four children, owns his own home, and has 
a cow and chickens. He still hopes to be able to farm. 

Some other concrete examples are : 

A Russian Pole, was 37 years old when he came to the United 
States, and has lived for seven years in the town in which he was 
interviewed. His maximum pay check was $92.00 for two weeks' 
work in 1919, the lowest $12.00. His wife reports that their bills at 
the company store are usually $40.00 to $45.00 and that he often 
draws very little in cash. He has four children, and he has saved 
enough to buy an automobile. 



thirty-eighth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, Table 35. In the four counties 
covered In this Investigation the average number of days worked was as follows : 
Bureau 206, Franklin 202, Sangamon 225, and Williamson 183. 



31 

A Ruthenian, has lived eighteen years in the United States, 
eight years in Illinois, and four years in the camp in which he now 
lives. His highest check in 1919 was $60.00. He reports that he 
earned about $900.00 that year. He has a wife and three children, 
the oldest eight years of age. He has one boarder, who pays $7.50 a 
week. The wife says they "spend everything they earn for food." 
They trade at the Union store when they have money. They can get 
credit at the Ruthenian grocery store when work is slack. 

A Croatian, was 36 years of age on arrival in the United 
States and six years in Illinois. His highest pay check in 1919 was 
148.00, and his lowest $8.00. He usually gets from $30.00 to $40.00. 
He estimates his annual earnings at $900.00. He has six children ; 
the two oldest are employed in the mine on a $3.00 a day rate. His 
wife says that they spend about $35.00 every two weeks for food and 
that they are always in debt. 

A Croatian, was thirty-six years of age on arrival in the United 
States and came to the town in which he now lives fourteen years 
ago. During 1919 his highest pay check was $80.00 for two weeks' 
work. Often his pay check was as low as $10.00 or $15.00. His wife 
reports that it costs about $30.00 every two weeks for food. There 
are seven children, the oldest 11 years of age. He belongs to a 
Croatian benevolent society. 

In Sangamon County work was as a whole more regular than 
in Williamson or Franklin counties. Still, in the individual mines, 
there is much irregularity. One man whose highest pay check was 
$145.00 had a total yearly income of $1,776.00. Another who was 
36 years of age on arrival, has been twenty years in the United 
States and thirteen in Springfield, had received a maximum 
pay check of $110.00 and a minimum one of $8.00 in 1919. He 
thinks his average has been about $40.00. He has seven children, 
the oldest 9 years of age. 

This irregularity of work not only means that the yearly in- 
come is far below what the rates of pay would lead the public to 
expect, but it means that a wise expenditure of what they do 
receive is impossible. A budget system cannot be planned on this 
uncertain outlook. As one discouraged mother said, ''You put it in 
the bank today and have to draw it out next pay day." Alternating 
between a large check and a very small one and credit usually means 
foolish expenditures when the pay is exceptionally good and depri- 



32 

ration when the pay envelope is slim. The accidents which are 
almost the common lot of the miner complicate very greatly this 
problem of making both ends meet. 

THE HAZARDS OF THE MINER 

There had been no great mining disasters in Illinois before the 
Cherry Fire, when 259 men were killed, and there has been none 
since that time. There have been only two mining disasters in the 
United States resulting in a greater number of fatalities. Cherry is 
to Illinois a warning of the kind of tragedy that may, but we 
believe never will, occur again. However, every year there are some 
fatal accidents and a very much larger number of non-fatal ones. 
Falling slate, rock and coal ; gas, powder and shot explosions ; trol- 
ley wires, mine cars and locomotives ; falling down shafts and other 
accidents take their yearly toll of men. 

The rate of men killed for every 1,000 employed in the mines of 
Illinois 1 was 2.43 in 1914; 1.80 in 1915 ; 1.69 in 1916 and 2.77 in both 
1917 and 1918. Of the 208 fatal accidents in 1919, 116 of the men 
were American born and 92 foreign born. 2 The non-fatal accidents 
are, of course, much more frequent. In the State 138,811 days were 
lost during the year ending July 1, 1919, by 2,515 men who were 
injured and returned to work. 3 In Williamson County alone there 
were 323 men during that year who were so seriously injured that 
they lost thirty or more days Of work. Altogether 18,967 days of 
work were lost by these men in Williamson County. 3 In Franklin 
County, during the year 1919, one man out of every thirty-two 
employed in the mines was injured so that he lost at least thirty 
days of work and the time lost through injuries of this magnitude 
amounted to 29,784 days. 4 The actual loss of time would be shown 
to be much greater if the minor injuries which require men to stay 
at home a few days or a few weeks were included. 



ir rhese figures are open to the general criticism which can be made against most 
accident figures in the United States. As they do not take into consideration the 
number of hours the men are employed the accident exposure rate cannot be 
determined. 

*Of this number 23 were Italian, 15r were Lithuanian, 12 Austrian. 7 Scotch, 5 
German, 5 Russian and the remaining were representatives of eleven other nationali- 
ties. Thirty-eighth Annual Coal Report of Illinois, 1919. Table 24, p. 80. 

Ibid., Table 29, p. 86. 

*These figures do not include time lost by twenty men in Williamson and two men 
In Franklin Counties who had not returned to work at the end of the year. 



33 

The Compensation Law has made payment for injuries much 
more certain and so has reduced the family suffering which used to 
be incident to a miner's accident. Still half-pay means real priva- 
tion and even this is not always collected. The Miners' Union main- 
tains a legal department, which looks after the men's cases, but still 
unfair settlements are sometimes accepted through ignorance or to 
avoid the delay of an appeal to the Industrial Board. 

THE MIXER'S WIDOW 

In case of an injury resulting in death, the law allows the 
widow and children four times half the man's annual earnings, pro- 
viding this in no case amounts to less than fl,650 or more than 
$4,000. Insurance is carried by many of the men, usually little moiv 
than enough to defray their funeral expenses, the union pays a 
death benefit, and a collection is often taken locally. The large 
number whose husbands die of "flu", pneumonia, or other non- 
industrial diseases have only the union benefit, the insurance if 
there is any and the collection made by friends larger in such cases 
than when the death is caused by an industrial accident. When 
these resources are exhausted, the widow in southern Illinois must 
look abroad for relief. Everyone who has done relief work in 
Chicago has encountered these widows of miners who have been 
helped with transportation to the city. They come from southern 
Illinois, from West Virginia, or Pennsylvania to Chicago because 
they cannot possibly live in the community on which, under the 
theory of our law, they should be a charge. In the smaller mining 
towns or camps only one or two women can support themselves 
washing and taking boarders, so these opportunities, wretched at 
best, are soon exhausted. In some mining districts an overall or 
box factory has been established on the theory that it can utilize for 
its labor supply the miners' daughters and the boys who are too 
young for the mines, but these come only to a good-sized or older 
settlement. In most cases there is only the mine in which employ- 
ment of the women, the girls and the boys under sixteen years of 
age is prohibited by law. 

In theory, we have, as a state, made provisions for the widows 
through our Mothers' Pension Law. But this is another example of 
a state law dependent entirely upon the local action for its effective- 
ness. Both Williamson and Franklin Counties give Mothers' Pen- 
sions usually to about forty-five women in amounts varying from 



34 

$5.00 to |12.00 a month. What can the mother do under these 
circumstances but move to some other county? When she arrives 
in Chicago she probably needs help at once. This is usually pro- 
vided by her country people for a short time and then she is 
directed to the relief agencies. The county agent knowing the law 
about non-resident dependents and the principle on which it is 
founded that every county should care for its own poor urges 
her to return, offers to pay her fare back and refuses to help unless 
she does return. But she pays no attention because she knows what 
the plan he suggests means for her and her children. Helped by 
private agencies and friends little better off than herself, she gets 
work or the children get work, until she finally acquires residence 
and becomes eligible for public relief in Cook County. 

In a mining county like Sangamon the situation is much more 
favorable. Springfield has, of course, its Charity Organization, 
Infant Welfare Society and other private charities, but outside of 
Springfield there are no private agencies and public relief is still 
inadequate. But the payments are higher than in Williamson and 
Franklin Counties. Last year the Mothers' Pensions ranged from 
$8.00 to $40.00 a month (only two were $8.00 and these it was said 
would soon be discontinued), in Sangamon County. The usual pen- 
sion is $25.00, and there are factories where supplementary employ- 
ment can usually be found inside the county. 

Still as a whole the mining counties demonstrate the suffering 
which our theory of local relief often entails. As in education there 
is no sound reason that can be urged why a county in which the 
accident rate is high, in which much wealth is produced but little 
remains in the county, should bear this burden alone. So far as the 
state is concerned it is certainly a blind policy to continue to rely 
on a method of relief which obviously does not and cannot assure 
the widows and children the protection and care the law intends 
shall be given them. If work were regular and pay adequate, the 
miners could leave enough so that upon their death their wives and 
children would not become objects of either public or private 
charity. However, so long as relief is still necessary, it should be 
available for these women in their homes without the suffering now 
entailed in establishing residence in another county. 



35 

CONSUMERS' COOPERATION AMONG THE MINERS 

The miners of Southern Illinois have been pioneers in the recent 
development of the co-operative movement in the United States. 
Local co-operative societies were organized with the active 
encouragement of the State Federation of Labor about ten years 
ago. With the increase in the cost of living during the war the 
number of these stores increased. They differ very much in their 
history and control. Some of them are managed by Americans and 
relatively few of the immigrant miners belong; the meetings are 
conducted entirely in English and very little consideration is given 
in the purchase of the goods and food stuffs to the customs peculiar 
to the various immigrant groups. The leaders in the organization 
of other stores have been immigrants who have had some experience 
in, or have known of, the co-operative movement at home. In some 
of these a single nationality predominates; occasionally only those 
from a single province or district belong. For example, in Herrin 
the Lombard Society, originally organized as a benefit association 
by Italians from Lombardy, conducts a large store which is a com- 
bination meat market, grocery and dry goods store. While only 
people from Lombardy are members, others may patronize the 
store. It has a slaughter house of its own and a large business in 
the surrounding country among North Italians especially. This 
store forms a center for the older North Italians of the town, but 
the younger generation prefers American associates and American 
customs, so its existence in this particular form may not be 
permanent. 

In some towns the local union opens a store, slightly under- 
sells its competitors and the profits if any belong to the union. 
Agents of the Commission found that the foreign born felt very 
little interest in these. As they did not have individual member- 
ships, they bought at the union store when they thought the articles 
were cheaper. Sometimes, after a store of this sort has been 
fostered by a union, it is turned into a co-operative store and indi- 
vidual members of the union form the co-operative society. 

The question of giving credit is a difficult one for the co-opera- 
tive store to meet. The miner frequently needs it because his work 
is irregular. The wife who keeps boarders often never gets enough 
ahead to pay for the groceries until she is paid by the boarders on 
pay day, so she must have credit. 



36 

In general it is considered safe for the co-operative store to loan 
a member only as much as he owns capital stock and because of his 
habit of relying on credit the member often finds that he cannot 
trade at the co-operative because he cannot get credit. 

While emergencies make credit sometimes necessary, the habit 
of relying on credit has been encouraged in the past by the order 
system of the company stores. The mine employees are paid every 
two weeks, but two weeks' pay is usually held back by the company. 
The company permits the men to draw orders which the company 
store accepts for any amount which they have earned. This "credit" 
at the store is deducted from the men's pay, so that frequently when 
pay day comes their wages have already been spent. Sometimes 
where this system is not arranged for, the men in an emergency 
will discount their orders for cash from a foreman or fellow-worker. 

Before prohibition much traffic in these orders was reported, 
although the union tried to discourage it; the men drew their orders 
and sold them at a discount sometimes of 25 per cent. In order to 
get money a man would sometimes purchase with an order some- 
thing such as a side of bacon for which they paid as much as $7.35 
and then resell it for fo.OO in cash. When pay day comes and the 
money has already been drawn, the same process must be continued. 

In the camps where there are also other stores, company stores 
on the whole are usually the largest and the best in appearance. 
Some of the families complained that they were more expensive than 
the other stores, but so far as the agents of the Commission could 
discover the prices charged by the company and by private stores 
on the whole appeared to vary no more than retail prices frequently 
do in different stores. Whatever the prices charged there is usually 
much less dissatisfaction when the company tow r n begins to sell its 
houses and permits other stores to come in. When the men must 
pay practically all they earn for food at the company store and rent 
a company house there is sure to be discontent. The co-operative, 
in addition to fostering much better habits of purchasing than did 
the company store and .reducing somewhat the cost of living, is of 
real educational value to the active members. 

TRADE UNIONISM AMONG THE MINERS 

Some indication has already been given of the part that the 
union more correctly the United Mine Workers of America plays 
in the life of the miner. Through it they have learned to work 



37 

together, not only to secure better wages, hours and protection 
against accidents, but also to maintain a hospital for their sick, to 
provide legal advice, to mitigate in some degree the hardships of 
the widows and orphans and to meet the problems of a rising cost 
of living bj- co-operative buying. 

At the present time practically all the fields in Illinois are 
organized and as the ''check off" system deduction of dues from 
wages is used, every man is a member of the union. This has not, 
of course, always been the case. In some of the towns the immi- 
grants were first brought in to break a strike or when one was 
anticipated. This resulted in hard feeling and bitterness among 
the various groups. Stories are told of how the Italians were first 
brought to Spring Valley by a saloon-keeper more than thirty years 
ago and of the opposition to their being employed in the mines at 
that time. The English speaking miners during the course of an 
eight-month strike practically abandoned that field to the Italians 
in 1899. There are many who tell how only a few years ago a "scab*' 
mine was opened in Franklin County and the foreigners' barracks 
were patrolled by sentries and a searchlight on top of the tipple 
swept the country round for miles at night. 

These incidents do not describe the larger movement of popula- 
tion which has come with the development of the mines of Illinois 
and indeed of the Middle West. At first the Americans, Germans, 
Scandinavians, and the English, Irish, Scotch and Welsh came from 
the Pennsylvania mines. In the same way the eastern and southern 
Europeans came later as one field after another was opened. They 
were in many places the pioneers and while not so quickly identified 
with the Americans as the northern and western Europeans, they 
have had their part in the development of the trade-union organiza- 
tion. 

The union has no program which it labels Americanization. It 
is, however, in many places almost the only unifying force. None 
of the local unions in the counties visited are organized along 
racial lines and practically the only places where all nationalities 
meet is in the mine and at the union meeting. The union theory 
seems to be that some way, somehow all the miners can learn 
English if they want to. It has already been shown that most of 
them learn to speak it after a fashion, but the vocabulary of many 
of those who do is so limited that they cannot take part in the 



38 

meetings and they lose much of what is said when a new subject is 
under discussion. 

The union has urged naturalization. The secretary-treasurer 
of District 12 said at the District Convention held in Peoria in 
1920, "if the U. M. W. A. is going to remain an American Institu- 
tion and contend for American standards and ideals, then every 
member in it ought to become an American citizen. Our Govern- 
ment is and always will be what the people make it. If our laws 
are not just, then they should be changed. There are no better 
weapons with which to do this than free schools and the ballot. 
The laws of the land give us both. If a man refuses or neglects to 
become a citizen and a voter then he has no right to complain about 
the laws which govern him." These sentiments all of us would 
applaud, but the difficulty in most of these mining towns is that 
there are no free schools where the adult may learn English. More- 
over, in most of the cities and towns of the state the returns from 
local taxation are so small, that the schools are woefully inadequate 
for the children, and if they had plenty of school funds, the law does 
not authorize its expenditure for adult education. While all this 
can be changed by legislation, it is at present an example of the 
"vicious circle." 

EACIAL FEELING 

The regard with which the foreign-born miners are held by the 
Americans among whom they live and work differs in different com- 
munities. In general, the difference is determined by whether those 
of a particular nationality are newcomers or old settlers. If they 
are old settlers, they usually mingle freely with the Americans, and 
judgments with reference to them are individual a man is liked 
or disliked because of individual traits and not because he is or is 
not an Italian, for example. But for many years after their 
arrival, the language barrier separates the immigrant groups from 
each other and from the American. In many of these mining towns 
the separation is intensified by an isolation which results from poor 
roads. Isolation usually causes suspicion and distrust, and 
in camps in which the frontier life of an earlier period is duplicated, 
may under strong feeling result in violence and serious injustice. 

In many places it has already been said the mine and the 
miners' union are the only meeting-places of the adults, as the 
school is the meeting-place of the children. Although a very 



39 

large per cent of the immigrants are Catholic, they are separated in 
their churches. To a church with an American or Irish priest few 
of the non-English speaking will go ; a church having a priest able 
to speak the language of one immigrant grpup the others do not 
usually attend. Thus a church in Herrin is almost exclusively 
Italian; the Poles do not go to the Lithuanian church of Benton; 
the Slovenians and Lithuanians have their own separate churches 
in Springfield; the Lithuanians, Italians, and Poles, all Roman 
Catholic, have their separate churches at Spring Valley; the priest 
of the Russian Church in Buckner, ministers almost exclusively to 
Russian Carpathians of that neighborhood. 

This mutual exclusiveness results from superficial rather than 
important differences. It often, however, leads to the conclusion 
that differences are an evidence of superiority, so that one group 
feels itself greatly superior to another. In some of the Illinois 
camps this situation is complicatd by the fact that the American 
miners are a rough set, inferior in most ways to the foreign born 
whom they contemptuously refer to as "Round Heads," "Hunkies," 
and "Dagoes." An unwillingness to trust the courts when one of 
them is an offender leads occasionally to race friction and riots. 

The West Frankfort riot that occurred during the past sum- 
mer, as the story first appeared in the newspapers of the state, 
seemed to indicate the same kind of racial antagonism which 
results in struggles over trivial affairs between the colored and 
white races. While greatly magnified in the first accounts, there 
have been difficulties which prepared the public to believe the 
worst. 1 

The great differences which education, industrial opportunity, 
and climate have created between the North and the South Italians 
often results in great contempt for the South Italians. In many 
towns in Illinois the North Italians, who were the first to come and 
have more American contacts, are largely responsible for the 
general use of the term "Black Italians" to describe the South 



'In Johnston the story Is told of the discharge of a South Italian miner, with 
some ill feeling on the part of both the manager and the man. Shortly after a shot 
was fired into the manager's house at night which killed his father-n-law and wounded 
his wife. The next day the discharged employee, who was believed to be responsible 
for the killing, was hung by a mob to the scale house at the railroad station in full 
view of a waiting passenger train. This occurred in 1915, but the people still Justify 
it as necessary ; and a mob was prepared to take the law into its hands to punish a 
murder which grew out of a quarrel over a dog fight last winter. 

Near Willisville in 1914 an Italian, while being removed from one town to 
another was lynched and shot twenty times, although he was already under arrest and 
handcuffed at the time. 



40 

Italians. In some districts of South Italy the people have been in 
the habit like Americans in the mountain districts of the South 
of settling their difficulties and grievances without reference to the 
courts and the law. There are some representatives of both such 
Americans and such Italians in camps where the habits of the 
frontier survive. 

In some of the towns, although- there is a large South Italian 
colony, there have been no outbreaks, and no difficulties in law 
enforcement were reported by the authorities. However, in a com- 
munity in which Americans regard a lynching as a means of 
teaching the foreigners a wholesome respect for law, little can be 
expected from the Sicilian. In such towns mob violence has 
occurred from time to time in the past. ' 

SOCIAL LIFE 

In the old days some of the mining camps were said to be 
nortorious for drinking, gambling, and general disorder. In spite 
of bootlegging, conditions are reported to be much improved since 
prohibition went into effect; but nothing has as yet been provided 
in the way of recreation or diversion for the men, women, or 
children in many of these camps. 

The foreign benevolent associations furnish some social life. 
Although organized primarily for burial insurance, during a year 
they often have a social meeting, a lecture, a play, or a dance. 
Among the Slavs and Lithuanians these societies are usually 
branches of national organizations, and through them the members 
are kept in touch with settlements in other cities and states and 
with what is happening at home. Some of these own their own 
buildings. In West Frankfort, for example, three Lithuanian 
societies have collected $1,300 and intend to buy or to build their 
own club house. 

In some of the towns the immigrants have joined American 
fraternal organizations; but, because of language difficulties, they 
usually take very little part in the social activities of these organi- 
zations. In the smaller towns and camps, according to the women, 
life is dull and monotonous almost beyond endurance. 

MOVEMENT OF THE WORKERS OUT OF THE COAL FIELDS 

There is a theory that much of our immigration during the ten 
years before the war was seasonal in character; that the Italians 



41 

particularly were frequently birds of passage, who came not to 
settle here but to work for a short time and then to return with 
such savings as they could accumulate by practicing the greatest 
personal self-denial. This practice has been denounced as undesir- 
able from an American standpoint. It has also been explained as 
inevitable and desirable if exploitation is prevented, on the theory 
that the international labor market should be drawn upon not only 
by the United States but by all nations for seasonal and for 
temporary employment. 

In the Illinois coal fields there has been a much smaller move- 
ment of this sort than might be expected. The foreign-born miners, 
although there is a considerable movement from one town to 
another, seem to have adopted the United States as their home. 

Of the 556 men from whom schedules were secured, 246 had 
come directly to Illinois and have since lived continuously in the 
state 128 of them in the same city or town. The next largest 
group, 140, had come via Pennsylvania ; 47 via Missouri ; and the 
others in smaller numbers from the metal mines of Michigan, from 
the coal fields of Alabama and Ohio, and from 25 other states. 

According to the reports of the United States Commissioner of 
Immigration during the decade from 11)10 to 1019 there were only 
o,.'J01 alien miners from Illinois in the outgoing stream. During 
each of the first four years of the decade the number leaving was 
about 500 ; in 1914 it increased to 739, probably because of return- 
ing reservists. In 1919 there were 158 who went back. In the 
course of the investigation it was found that a considerable number 
especially of the Italians had been to the old home once and some 
twice for a visit, but they regarded the United States and Illinois 
as their real home. In Williamson and Franklin counties 16 per 
cent of the men interviewed had been back. Thirty-two per cent of 
the South Italians and 20 per cent of the North Italians, but only 
5 per cent of the Poles and Lithuanians had returned for a visit. 

From the northern coal fields there has been a steady departure 
as one after another the richer mines of the central and southern 
part of the state and industrial towns have offered larger returns 
to the worker. Cherry, in Bureau County, has decreased in popula- 
tion ever since the fire, until now the town, originally built to 
house 500 workers in the mines has only :U>2 miners. Whole rows 
of houses are boarded up, and the main street is grass grown. In 



42 

other parts of Hnrran County nirn have been atlradr.l to factory 
work by (lie higher wages. Although many who own their own 

liMlnr .in- .Irl.-i | r,| ||.,|ll IcMVIlr.' by lli.ll l.irl. Ot llCI'S llRVO ;ili:lll 

doned their property in order to go. In Spring Valley -00 children 

are H'|M.rl.-.| t<) have loft the Schools ItlHt \\ inln hecaUHC their 

parents were moving to industrial centers Detroit, Kockford, and 
apparently attracting most of them. 



In Sangamon County, although there waH a shortage of labor 
in th<' mi IICH last Nnmmcr, men were leaving for factory jolw. On 
the whole, however, there wan mud to be comparatively little shift- 
ing in ili.ii Mction. 

Diminishing returns from their labor in one Held or better 
wagcH in the iiHliiMlrial IOWIIH IH the most freipient reanon why the 
minei-H leave one town or camp for another or for the city. The 
regularity of factory work in recent years made the yearly factory 
wage Hcale higher than the minci-H*. Irregularity of employment in 
the mines IUIH been one of the greatest drawbacks to this work. 

But in addition to economic reasons many of the miners leave 
because they know their children will have better schools and 
opportunities of all sorts in a city than in a mining camp and when 
they are ready to go to work there will be a wider choice of employ- 
ment open to them. 

There is a spying ''once a miner, always a miner,'' and it is cer- 
tainly true that there is real attachment to the work in spite of the 
hazards, the fact that, it means for most of them underground work, 
and usually fewer opportunities for themselves and their children. 
Some of those who leave return because they prefer the relative 
independence which the miner enjoys in his work. During the 
winter of 1910-liO some returned because of the high city rents or 
their inability to HIM I any place in which to live in the industrial 
centers. 

CONCLUSION 

It would be a mistake if the impression of helplessness has 
been given JIM the characteristic of the immigrant miners in Illinois. 
Quite the reverse is the case. Mining apparently, more than indns 
trial employment, develops independence of thought and action and 
individual initiative. In general these are the lialtits of the frontier 
which have so influenced the development of American life. While 



43 

we know (lie value lo tlu- individual of pioneering, we also know its 
costliness. It is peculiarly hard on the women and children, and 
too frequently the children of vigorous pioneering stock are 
physically exhausted before they begin life. The mining towns in 
the same sections and in diH'erent sections of the stale differ from 
each other. In some the problems are no more serious than in the 
average industrial community. In a town which has a thousand 
people, no doctor, and only one telephone and that not available all 
the time, when houses are miserable makeshifts for homes, when 
the water supply is had and inadequate, when the schools are OUT 
crowded and the term short, when there is no organi/.ed recreation, 
life offers little to the miners ami even less to their wives and their 
children. So far as the immediate outlook is concerned, this is not 
a temporary but a permanent condition. That the children do not 
want to enter the mines when they grow up, that the boys from 
these communities who saw life with the army will want at least 
to try for something better is to be expected. At this time. 
however, when there is a world shortage of coal, the Illinois 
mines must be worked, and some way should be found of 
protecting health, and of supplying better schools, more comfortable 
homes, and richer recreational opportunities in the mining com- 
munities of the state. The possible savings which might be made it 
the coal were converted into power at the mouth of the mine and 
by-products were adopted for commercial purposes are now being 
discussed by engineers. The social advantages of such a plan should 
not be ignored. It would bring to these districts diversity of em- 
ployment and, in a large measure, make the isolated camp a thing 
of the past.